An Open Letter to Chancellor Rita Cheng:
I was outraged when I heard you plan to demolish Pulliam Pool, and doubly outraged when I learned that renovating it would only cost $500,000. Half a million is a fraction of the cost of the new football stadium. Personally, I have been to the stadium only a handful of times, and have never used it, i.e. played football there. However, in my 30 years as a student and employee, I’ve used Pulliam pool literally thousands of times. My four children all learned to swim there. Nor am I alone.
During the noon free swim, which I’ve attended twice a week since 1994, it’s often difficult to find a lane to use. You say that we Pulliam swimmers can switch to the Recreation Center pool, but there are a number of reasons why that’s an undesirable alternative. The Recreation Center requires expensive passes — a burden to retirees’ fixed incomes — which provide access to all its facilities, when all we want to do is swim. The Recreation Center pool is kept cooler for the benefit of athletic swimmers, but is uncomfortable for ordinary swimmers and those doing arthritis exercises. There is also no shallow wading pool safe for small children. The Rec Center is farther away from the center of campus, so that those of us swimming during our lunch hour would burn up so much time getting there and back that we’d have little time to actually swim.
It’s true Pulliam Pool is aging, but it was constructed at a time when things were built to last. It has character, with its wood and tile surfaces, that the concrete and steel of the Rec Center lacks. It is an SIU tradition dating back to the U-School. Would we replace Pulliam clock tower with a digital clock, or pave Thompson Woods to put up a parking lot?
Many private companies provide its employees with pools and gyms to improve employee health, reduce sick time and relieve stress. It makes no sense for SIU to take away such opportunities. We realize that SIU has financial difficulties, and we would be willing to go to punch card system for free swims, such as the Stress Buster program uses.
Keeping Pulliam Pool open needn’t consign the School of Art and Design to the Blue Barracks forever. With the completion of the Student Services Building, there will be space available in Woody Hall. Surely Woody would be easier to remodel than Pulliam, and the two are about the same age.
Gary K. Shepherd
Senior Library Specialist